Holding Space

With Shelly Vaughn

Deep Waters

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The girls went back to school today, starting 2nd and 4th grade this year. As the beginning of school marks the end of their summer break, I reflect back on what this summer has been like for them. I was so concerned that my issues would hinder their fun or make their memories of summer 2017 boring or miserable. Thanks to all of you who helped keep them entertained, and brought meals to us so that we could have more “down time” with them, I would say we collectively made their summer break pretty fun for them. It’s part of why I love this amazing group of people- not just holding space with me through this, but being part of the community/family keeping my girls playful and innocent.

There was one change with the girls this summer that I got to enjoy just recently. They have been to several big swimming pools this summer and had been telling me how well they can both swim now. It wasn’t until last week that I felt well enough to get out of the house with them and watch them swim at a friend’s house. They weren’t kidding. They’re swimming in deep water; jumping in without fear; and doing the handstands, flips, and underwater tea parties that every young girl should spend hours doing. It made me remember doing all of the same things with my sister, cousins, and friends every summer. It also made me think back to several years ago when we were members of Waterworks pool. The girls were both much younger and leery of the water. They would stand on the edge and hesitate to jump in the pool into my arms as I waited in the water. I knew they were safe no matter what, but they couldn’t feel it until they were actually in the water with arms around my neck and feet tucked around my waist feeling safe and secure again… and able to smile.

I can relate to that now in a different way. A cancer diagnosis suddenly threw me into water that I wasn’t ready for. It was so deep and frightening. My head barely stayed above the water at times and for a while I panicked- floundering around, reaching for anything around me to make me feel safe- just wishing I could be in a different place where my feet could safely touch the ground. But when I calmed enough, I could feel God’s arms right there. He was standing in the pool just waiting for me to realize He’s there to keep me safe in His embrace. To hold me in the deep water when I cannot stand on my own. So I feel Him now. I know He’s there. And I feel almost safe. Not enough that I’ve taken a breath and allowed myself to fully relax in His arms. (I don’t know when that will happen as I’ve heard from several survivors that the fear of recurrence is strong for a while.) But I feel like I’m getting so much closer to that now that I have the “all clear” from pathology. Honestly, I’d still like to be out of the pool watching from a chaise lounge as I sit poolside eating grapes in the warmth of summer. But you know what, I’m learning that I don’t get to choose where I want to be. But I can choose to trust that God’s got me no matter where I end up. 💕

“…You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine…”
– Oceans (Hillsong United)

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